Monday, March 30, 2009

Why Authors Write Books

"A writer looking for subjects," observes Annie Dillard in The Writing Life, "inquires not after what he loves best, but after what he alone loves at all."

In other words, authors are compelled to tell other people about some small corner of the world's marvels that they alone find fascinating. That small corner is almost always an intimate one. It encompasses and enfolds an author's personal experience, even when it's written as fiction.
Books Grow Like Trees
Let me illustrate. Each week, in my editorial services business for authors, I receive emails from writers describing their book projects. Every one of these projects grew -- as would a tree's roots and branches -- from a personal experience that moved or disturbed its author. An experience that led him or her to spend many months writing hundreds of pages.

Surprisingly few of these authors are primarily, or professionally, writers. And it makes no difference. All are writing to give voice to what they know. What life has taught them that they find mesmerizing.
And their stories are invariably a marvel:
so varied, so heartfelt, so often courageous.

Many are about survival: whether surviving an orphanage . . . a severely dysfunctional family . . . a life-altering car accident . . . or life in a country beseiged by violent unrest.

A few are about lives on a world stage: the biography of a world-famous musician . . . or the memoir of an internationally known physician who lived in British internment camps set up in Africa during World War II.

Among the novels, almost all emerge from something their authors love or, in some way, identify with: whether sixties rock stars . . . the spunkiness of thirty-somethings determined to express themselves . . . teenagers confronting the abyss that opens on the cusp of adulthood . . . or a world in which everyone is enlightened.

The many nonfiction authors who contact me produce manuscripts equally diverse:
They offer business executives a new perspective on leadership . . . or a method for renewing creativity in management. They present a system of self-hypnosis that will transform the stress and anxiety of daily life. They describe a spiritual experience that led to a novel way of seeking inner guidance.They help those with chronic illness find fulfillment, despite the many challenges that confront them each day.

A Thriving Genre
Self-help, among the authors who seek my assistance, is a thriving genre. It thrives because of the authorial impulse to share life's experience, and what that experience has taught -- leading authors to love the unique universality of their lives all the more.

For writers of books want to share their hard-earned wisdom with readers who will be mesmerized by the world they've created. And will put the essence of their wise words to good use.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Laurel! I love the theme of your blog and the writing. I'm not surprised, though, because I know you have so much experience. Thanks for the great read!